REPORT: Most Wildlife Attractions Don't Follow Basic Welfare Standards, Thomas Cook Axes Cruel Industry
An independent report commissioned by Thomas Cook, Britain's second largest travel company, found that most animal attractions are not following the basic welfare guidelines.
The assessment was done by Global Spirit. Of the 25 attractions they evaluated, 16 did not meet the minimum standards. Thomas Cook's website cites that as a minimum, all animals need the following: food and water, suitable living environment, good health, opportunity to exhibit natural behaviors and protection from fear and distress.
However, the report showed horrifying conditions of the animals. Travel Weekly reported that they found dolphins with badly damaged skin and elephants which were being kept in cruel conditions, mentioning that they were heavily chained and were forced to engage in activities that were not natural for them.
As a result, Thomas Cook is axing the attractions, including Ocean World in the Dominican Republic, Sealanya in Turkey and Baan Chang tours in Samui, Thailand, plus others in India and Cuba, The Sun noted. Over the weekend, the employees of the said establishments were told to stop promoting the attractions and discontinue selling tickets.
Peter Fankhauser, CEO of the Thomas Cook Group, told the Sunday Times, "Our industry has not changed fast enough. By taking these attractions off sale, we are sending a message that we won't accept anything less than full compliance with the welfare standards our customers would expect."
According to Daily Mail, a separate inspection was done by another agency and found out that Ocean World in Dominican Republic held dolphins in shallow tanks surrounded by 20 tourists for 30 minutes at a time, while the poor animals were forced to hug and shake hands with each tourist.
Meanwhile, animal and wildlife groups responded positively on the action of Thomas Cook.
"We are delighted Thomas Cook appears to be taking this issue seriously. Many other travel companies are not, and many facilities continue to flout the Abta animal welfare guidelines," the Whale and Dolphin conservation group said in a statement.